Practicing Mindfulness Through the 5 Senses
Mindfulness is a buzzy word that gets thrown around a lot these days. It’s associated with wellness and being calm and grounded. We all want to practice more of it in our lives. It’s supposed to alleviate stress. We know it’s good and we need more of it. But what does it really mean to practice mindfulness? What is mindfulness? What does it mean to be mindful? Is there more than 1 way to be mindful?
I will give a brief explanation of what mindfulness is and show you a simple effective grounding technique to add to your daily practice. This technique can help you feel more calm, collected, and reduce anxiety. And in practicing it, you’ll be able to be more mindful of your own experiences and how to transform them.
So what is mindfulness, anyway?
Merriam-Webster defines it as:
“1: the quality or state of being mindful
2: the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one's thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis
also : such a state of awareness”
I know what you are thinking. How does this apply to me? I will tell you that a common reason I encounter in my practice that causes people distress is the difficulty of living in the “here and now.” Western society is collectively a collectively anxious society. We have express coffee, fast food, and too many worries to even list. We often don’t even have time to eat! We tend to live for five minutes from now, and never really in the now. So what happens day after day of living a rushed lifestyle? It becomes a perpetual cycle of stress and worry. Practicing mindfulness helps you slow down and experience the here and now. When you experience the here and now, the mind slows and quiets. And who doesn’t need more of that these days?
I am going to show you a simple practice on how to be more mindful through this effective grounding technique by tapping into your five senses. You can practice this anywhere, whether it be at home, on a car ride, or in a middle of a crowd. It is discreet, and no one knows you are practicing it other than you (and those you decide to tell.) These five senses are your sense of smell, taste, touch, hearing, and sight.
Breathe in. Notice your breath. Feel where the breath goes from inside your nose, down your airways, into your lungs. Take deep breaths. Breathe out slowly. Notice any subtle smells in the air. If you have perfume, put some on. Carry aromatherapy essential oils.
Eat a piece of gum or candy, slowly. Notice the taste, sensation, and process of it all. If you don’t have food, notice taste by running your tongue by each tooth slowly. Count. Repeat.
Sit straight up, or stand straight up. Feel the gravity pulling at your feet. If you have something you can fidget with, hold it in your hand. Notice the textures, temperature, and weight of the object. If it feels safe, put your hands on your knees and really notice the sensations of your body.
Whether you are in a crowded situation or alone by yourself, you can tap into your sense of hearing easily. Listen to the background noise. Hone in on the details of the noise. If you have earphones, pop those in and listen to some music. Pay attention to the lyrics.
Pick a color. Scan your environment and name all the things that are this color in your head. Do it slowly. Notice the shapes, angles, and intensity of the colors. Repeat unless the distress is reduced.
Everyone has a favorite sense they like tapping into more than the other senses. Some people combine a couple or a few of the senses all at once. Do what works for you. And remember, practice makes perfect. I hope this will help you in your journey.
A Letter From Amy
I am a Registered Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with Gather and Grow OC. I have always had a deep passion for working with those who have experienced life altering experiences and helping them transform their traumas and achieve self empowerment. I have been fortunate to be able to help others in this way through psychotherapy.
In my past career life, I worked as a Children’s Social Worker for Los Angeles County and as a Senior Social Worker for Orange County. Working with child abuse and dependency opened my eyes to the wide array of the traumas that people go through. I wanted to do more to help people heal their pain and traumas. Why do people do what they do? Why do hurt people hurt other people? Why do trauma cycles keep repeating themselves? These were the questions that I wanted answered. Furthermore, I wanted to help resolve these issues in the community that I served. So in 2014, I left my career in child protective services, pursued, and received my Master’s in Clinical Psychology at Pepperdine University. The rest you can say, is history.
In my practice, I have had the honor of helping others heal through EMDR, and traditional talk therapy through a non judgmental and affirming lens. I have a particular affinity to working with HSPs (highly sensitive persons) and those who identify with the #MeToo movement. I utilize holistic treatment methods that incorporate the mind, body, and spirit. I wholeheartedly believe in a person’s ability to heal with proper support and encouragement. I strive to offer these aspects in my clinical practice and personal life.